When the body of an apparently well-liked, respectable woman is discovered at the bottom of a former slate mine, now a busy tourist attraction, a Pandora’s Box of hate and fear is opened in the North Wales town of Llanelen.
The victim’s sister, Rebeccah, sells cheap goods from market stalls in the area. Amateur sleuth and spa owner Penny Brannigan is drawn into the investigation when jars of her house brand hand cream, along with other counterfeit local products are discovered in the sister’s inventory.
The asthmatic son of the mine operator had suffered an almost fatal attack a few days after his mother had sprayed his room with air freshener she’d purchased at the stall. The police investigation reveals that the dead woman had been filling in for her sister on the stall the day the air freshener was purchased and suspect the mine worker of her murder.
But after talking to the victim’s elderly mother, and learning that the victim’s father, the former mine manager, also died down the mine, Penny has an uneasy sense that a deeply hidden family secret lies behind the murder.
At the heart of the story is a long forgotten child whose rise to fame and wealth meant nothing without a family’s love, a cold mother who thought she had buried the past, and a sister who died as the unwitting focus of decades of pain.
And during the course of the investigation, Penny’s friend and former lover DCI Gareth Davies discovers the truth about a secret in her own past.
Reviews and Praise for Slated for Death
“Dorothy Sayers fans will welcome Duncan’s sixth Penny Brannigan mystery set in North Wales … she does a good job evoking the toil and hardship intrinsic to the slate mining industry … (and) manages a neat surprise ending, too.” — Publishers Weekly.
“The tutorial on slate mining and plenty of local color make for an entertaining entry in this long-running series.” — Kirkus Reviews.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this Welsh cozy. The main character is very kind and concerned about helping others without being sappy. I wish we had more of this in fiction and in the real world. Easy to sit back, relax, and enjoy. Interesting characters and fun to try to figure out ‘who done it’.” — Comment left by ‘merlinsilver’, New York City Library.